Sometimes you've got to go with your gut. Other times, it's better to go with someone else's.
Your lunch instincts are strong. You generally know what you want, but on this occasion, the bartender at 18th & Vine catches you furrowing your brow and muttering to yourself over the impending decision. The clock ticks, and you teeter on the fence, satisfaction on the line.
He recommends a new off-menu sandwich. Rib tip crumbles are involved. You feel a great weight lifted from your conscience. You're getting The Rube, whose namesake, Rube Foster, is one of the most important Negro league baseball figures this side of Satchel Paige. Just like everything else at 18th & Vine, it has the distinct waft of nostalgia to it, which is not altogether separate from the Kansas City-style sauce's thick, molasses-sweet scent permeating the room.
But more importantly, it's a straight-up damn good sandwich. The rib meat is chewy without crossing over to tough, and there is a heaping helping of it in the toasted hoagie roll, making it almost necessary to attack this thing as if it were a hamburger rather than a hoagie. If you try to sub-sandwich this thing, you're going to end up with tasty rib meat sprinkled all throughout your tray.
The rib meat makes it either into your sandwich or eventually onto your tray glistening and beckoning; don't you dare call the cut 'leftovers.' Despite its simplicity, The Rube was put together with more care than that.
House-made pickles fence in the stack of meat on one side of the roll, glued together with just the right amount of 18th & Vine's barbecue sauce. On the other side lies another line of sauce, which may have your brow furrowing again, but go with it. It's called okra sauce. No tricks here; it's called okra sauce because they normally pair it with side orders of fried okra.
Really, it's just the barbecue sauce again, mixed with mayonnaise and a few additional spices. Again, just go with it. You want the okra sauce.
And don't forget about the pickled red onions tucked neatly into the corner of your tray. They're the perfect salty complement to the sweet and meaty sandwich.
For lunch, the sandwich pairs with one side for a well-spent $13, which surprisingly, given 18th & Vine's barbecue-joint-meets-fancy-fare feel, makes it the most expensive sandwich on the lunch menu. Another word of advice: go with the pit beans if you can fit anymore meat into your lunch hour or the jalapeño cheese grits (pictured) for a slightly lighter feeling the rest of the afternoon.
18th & Vine, 4100 Maple Ave.
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